Japanese researchers including Yoshida and colleagues from the Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine used a specific lab method (gas chromatography mass spectrometry) on certain serum metabolite levels in patients with known pancreatitis, diagnosed pancreatic cancer (ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas), and healthy subject volunteers.
The results of this study were published this month in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research (and co-sponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology).
In comparing the test results of the serum of the 43 patients with pancreatic cancer versus those of the 42 healthy subjects, the spectrometry model showed both high sensitivity (86%) and high specificity (88.1%). When additionally looking at the patients with pancreatitis, the model was able to significantly differentiate between pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis.
This is an early study, but one of great promise. The quest for determining accurate non-invasive methods for the earlier diagnosis (and even screening) for pancreatic cancer is paramount. These results move this aim closer. The methods outlined in this research are important enough to require additional study and refinement.
Dale O’Brien, MD